Capital Punishment: Morally Required?

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One of today’s most debated political and moral topics is that of Capital Punishment. Many people believe that the sanctity of life should take precedent over all, and that even if there is some deterrent effect stemming from capital punishment it is still not morally permissible. However, there are still others that believe that it is this same sanctity of life that requires the use of the death penalty in “death eligible” murder cases and capital punishment requires a certain “life-life tradeoff”. Two of the major supporters of the “life-life tradeoff” theory in regards to capital punishment are Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule; together the two co-authored the very persuasive and well-written essay entitled: Is Capital Punishment Morally Required? The Relevance of Life-Life Tradeoffs. As aforementioned, the basis of this essay centers on the argument that capital punishment is not only a morally permissible act (punishment) carried out by the government, but could be seen as a morally required act because of its potential life saving abilities in the form of deterrence. After reading Sunstein and Vermeule’s essay I would have to agree whole-heartedly in their argument that capital punishment, as a deterrent, should be actively used in death eligible cases to further protect innocent “statistical lives”. For those who support the death penalty there are really two overcastting theories as to why capital punishment, in its current or advanced form, should be used: retribution and deterrence. The first theory, retribution, which is not significantly included in Sunstein and Vermeule’s essay, is centered on the belief that those who intentionally kill another human being, and in doing so undermines that victim(s)’ right to life, should also forfeit their right to live. If this holds true, then the best way to carry out such retribution would be through a well defined and competent judicial system. If the judicial system is unable or unwilling to hand out...
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